Catherine O’Leary and Alberto Lázaro, eds. Censorship across Borders: The Reception of English Literature in Twentieth-Century Europe. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011.

ISBN: 1-4438-3218-9
214 pp.

This volume brings together twelve essays which explore European censorship of English literature in the last century. Taking into consideration the various social, political and historical contexts in which literary controls were imposed and the extent to which they were determined by national and international concerns, these essays comment on political and moral censorship, self-censorship, and the role of the translator as censor. Besides systematic state control, other hidden and insidious forms of censorship are also surveyed in the essays. This study considers why certain works and authors, many of them now regarded as canonical, were targeted in various states and often under opposing ideologies, such as those dominated by conservative Catholic morality and those governed by communism or socialism.

The essays contain previously unpublished material, cover a wide range of authors – including Beckett, Eliot, Joyce and Orwell – and analyse diverse censorship systems operating across Europe, thus serving as a useful comparative resource. Despite the variety of structures of suppression, the study shows that certain common practices can be discerned across national borders and that general conclusions can be drawn about the complex and ambiguous nature of the state’s relationship with culture and about the immediate and long-term impact of censorship, not only on the author and publisher but on society as a whole. Finally, the essays are also significant for what they tell us about the survival of literature, despite the best efforts of the censors.



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